First things first. Sharptooth’s album Clever Girl kicks ass. I love punk rock, some of my favorite bands being The Replacements and Minor Threat. Punk thrives on a platform of adversity, with a system to brazenly rail against without a thought of consequence. Punk needs to have something to say. Right now, in 2017, Punk has a lot to say, and Sharptooth says it… loudly. They let you know what you’re in for immediately with the track “Rude Awakening,” which hits hard and doesn’t let up. Next up is the title track, a fast-paced powerhouse of a song. The pacing of this track is excellent, with certain words and phrases given emphasis through a change in tempo.
The writing for this album is strong. If you had any question about the band’s political and social stance, they would be answered by the third track, which plays to me like a battle cry of “There’s no peace without justice.. we the people have spoken.” If you still aren’t sure whether this album has a political message, the fourth track is titled, “Fuck You Donald Trump.” Punk has always been political, and Sharptooth is not afraid to take their place in that tradition. The bands political message is solidified as the album goes continues, culminating in the song “Jesus Loves You.” It is important to note that the album ends with a positive tone. Songs like “Rise,” and, “Pushing Forward,” have a definitively hopeful tone to them.
The composition of the music is intense throughout, and never really lets up. While I enjoy the overall energy of the music, I feel it could be further strengthened by variety. “Rude Awakening,” begins and ends with tempo changes that lend emphasis to what is being said. The album overall could benefit from more of that kind of variation, especially with the tracks being a little longer than is typical of the genre. That being said, the longer tracks work, and make for a nice change. The mix is overall very well done, with the vocals cutting through the overall composition very well. Each member of the band is easily identifiable and well showcased. I’m not a big fan of treble heavy guitar tone, which the band uses in some spots, but for them it works.
Let me also say that I love the album title. Along with being political in nature, I find that punk has a certain affinity for incorporating nostalgic pop culture as part of its medium. In The Land Before Time movie franchise, Sharptooth was the name of the name Littlefoot and friends whispered in fear to refer to the T-Rex. Clever Girl is easily recognisable as a reference to Jurassic Park. I’m a sucker for clever wordplay. The band name and album title add a little light humor to an otherwise intense album. In a way, perhaps it caused me to let my guard down regarding any preconceptions I may have had.
Clever Girl does just what Punk is supposed to do. It takes a stand, and doesn’t care what you think about it. I’ll be looking for Sharptooth in Nashville, TN.